Joining the Military | Starting Your Military Career
Higher Education Is Costly: Military Service Can Keep it Affordable
The cost of higher education and the thought of taking on student debt can be overwhelming. Perhaps you don’t think college is right for you now and want to wait. The military has options to make education affordable – whenever you choose to attend.
Explore Your Base and Beyond with MilitaryINSTALLATIONS
You’re going to PCS or you’ve just arrived. Want to learn about activities on base? Schools in the community? Check-in procedures? Child care? A veterinarian for your pet? Or other useful information?
Four Steps to Buying a Car as a Service Member
Buying a car is a major purchase. There’s a lot to know – from sticker prices to auto loans to warranties. Avoid getting ripped off or buying more car than you need.
Department of Defense and Military Identification Cards
One of the most valuable assets to service members is their military ID. The Department of Defense issues distinct identification cards to uniformed service members, their family members and other eligible individuals to serve as proof of the cardholder's identity and Department of Defense affiliation.
10 Tips to Take to Basic Training
Basic training varies by service branch, but it’ll help you to know these facts of military life before you report for duty. Own these 10 bits of advice from people who have been there.
A Look Into Joining the Military’s Elite Forces in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force
U.S. service members already serve their country as part of one of the finest fighting forces the world has ever seen. Some special operations units have even higher standards than the general force.
Military Pay 101: Basic Pay, Allowances and S&I Pay
As an active-duty service member, you receive many benefits and entitlements like free access to Military OneSource services and support. One of the primary benefits to working in the military is a steady paycheck and tax-free allowances. Here’s a summary of the different military pay elements you might see on your monthly Leave and Earnings Statement.
Military Leave: What It Is and How It Works
As part of the military pay and benefits package, military service members earn 30 days of paid leave per year. You start at zero and for every month of military service, 2.5 days of leave get added to your leave account. It doesn’t stop, but the most you can carry over from one fiscal year to the next fiscal year is 60 days, except in certain, very limited situations where you can carry over more.
CAC and Military IDs for Dependents, Retirees and Others
The military issues standard identification cards to active duty, reserve and National Guard members, retired service members, civilian employees, some contractors, family members of eligible sponsors and other eligible individuals. In addition to providing verification of identity and affiliation to the Department, military ID cards also verify eligibility for access to those benefits identified on the card.
Are You Financially Fit? How to Make Financial Wellness Happen
They say money can't buy happiness, but a financially-healthy future can buy peace of mind. Plus, financial security at home allows service members to be more focused and mission-ready.
Military Insignia: What Are Those Stripes and Bars?
The stripes and bars on a military uniform signify rank. If you’re new to the military, you know enough to understand that rank matters.
Thrift Savings Plan Options: Making Your Retirement Dollars Work for You
It’s never too early to start saving for retirement. The best way to get started is the Thrift Savings Plan, a retirement savings plan for federal employees and members of the uniformed services that gives you two ways to sock away some cash.
Navy Boot Camp and Officer Candidate School: What to Expect
Navy Boot Camp is the first step in turning you into a sailor with all the skills to perform in the fleet. If you're on the Navy officer path, you'll attend a 13-week course to prepare for an officer's responsibilities. Know what to expect and arrive ready for Navy training.
Marine Corps Boot Camp and Officer Candidates School: What to Expect
Marine Corps Basic Recruit Training is the first step in preparing you mentally and physically to serve. The second step is the School of Infantry, where you'll develop core skills for service.
Air Force Basic Training: What to Expect
When joining the Air Force you can choose one of two paths, either enlist or get a commission as an officer. If you enlist, your first stop will be Air Force Basic Training, eight-and-a-half weeks of physical preparation to serve, before you move onto more technical training. If you take the officer path, you’ll go to Officer Training School, the U.S. Air Force Academy or Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps.
What to Pack for Basic Training
You'll need to take only a few basic things when you head off to basic training - everything else will be provided for you. Your recruiter will give you a list of what you must take and what you definitely shouldn't pack.
Army Basic Training: What to Expect
Basic training is the first step in preparing you to be a soldier. It starts with basic combat training or Army boot camp. Then comes specialized training in your career field — or you may go to Officer Candidate School to master Army leadership skills.
Life After Basic Army Combat Training
Following your Army basic combat training, you’ll take one of two paths, advanced individual training or Officer Candidate School to advance in your military career.
Managing Your Money as a New Service Member
You're learning a lot of new skills in the military, and money management should be one of them. As a service member, you may earn more, get special duty pay or have new expenses. It's your money. Make the most of it by creating a financial plan. Staying on top of your finances is important for your security clearance, your career and your future.
The New Army Combat Fitness Test
Starting October 2020, all soldiers will be required to pass the new Army Combat Fitness Test, which will replace the Army Physical Fitness Test. You will be expected to meet ACFT requirements regardless of age or gender, as part of your military training.
New to the Military? Get Answers to Common Military Uniform Questions
Thinking about joining the military? Perhaps you’ve already signed up and are waiting to head to boot camp, or someone close to you has joined the military. Some of the common questions among new recruits and their loved ones relate to military uniforms.
Your Leave and Earnings Statement
Your monthly Leave and Earnings Statement, or LES, is one of the most important financial documents you have for mastering your money and achieving your financial goals. Here's how to decipher the code.
Deductions, Allotments and What Comes Out of Your Military Pay
Like a coin, there are two sides of your military paycheck. There’s what goes into your paycheck – basic pay, allowances and special and incentive pays – and there is what comes out. You can see your deductions and allotments listed on your Leave and Earnings Statement, or LES. Here are some of the more common items you’ll see listed on your LES.
Support and Resources Through the Commissary and Exchange
You may already know that shopping for groceries at the commissary or for electronics at the exchange can amount to significant savings. But you may not know that these stores also offer additional perks like contest prizes, scholarships and family employment opportunities, all while supporting your war-fighter overseas. Check out our listings below for benefits you may not have heard about.
Meeting Military Fitness Standards
Physical fitness is a big part of life in the military. It’s required. Each service member is regularly tested. A Military OneSource Health and Wellness Coach can help you get or stay fit.
The Savings Deposit Program
If a combat deployment is in your future, be sure to learn about the Savings Deposit Program, a savings account that earns you 10 percent interest. An effective way to collect some savings, the Savings Deposit Program can help you and your family achieve your financial goals.
Military Pay 101: How to Open a Bank Account and an Introduction to TSP
When you’ve received your first Leave and Earnings Statement, or LES, that means you’ve been paid for your service in the Armed Forces. We’ve got some tips on how you can make the most of your basic pay – from the most important parts of your actual pay stub, to picking the right bank account, to even getting a “raise” by increasing your Thrift Savings Plan, or TSP, contributions.
Military Jobs: Your Future Career in the Armed Forces
Enlisting in the military can help you achieve your career goals. In fact, there are even some jobs that you can only do as a service member, like drive a tank or fly a fighter jet. Here’s what you need to know about your future military career.
American Red Cross Support for Military Families
The American Red Cross offers important support to service members, veterans and their families. You'll find the Red Cross in hometowns across America, on military installations around the world and deployed with the armed forces to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Djibouti.